Former NFL Star Tim Tebow Urges Congress to Allocate More Resources to Fight Child Sexual Exploitation

Rachel Acenas
By Rachel Acenas
March 6, 2024Congress
Former NFL star Tim Tebow went to Congress on March 6 to ask for resources in the fight against child sexual abuse. Mr. Tebow is supporting a bill to build a team to identify and rescue victims of child sexual abuse.

Another high-profile hearing on Capitol Hill has put the spotlight back on the issue of child sexual abuse and exploitation, marking the latest efforts to crack down on a crisis that advocates fear is getting worse.

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance held the hearing on Wednesday.

“The United States has a duty to protect our children from becoming victims of these despicable acts,” Chairman Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) said in his opening statement.

Mr. Biggs highlighted the rise of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM), or pictures and videos that capture the sexual abuse of children below the age of 18. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCEC), reports of CSAM reached a record high last year of more than 36 million. The NCEC’s CyberTipline, a centralized system for reporting online CSAM, was alerted to more than 88 million files in 2022.

During Wednesday’s public hearing, the panel heard testimony from witnesses and child advocates, including Tim Tebow, former NFL quarterback and founder of the non-profit, faith-based organization the Tim Tebow Foundation.

“Today is about policy, not politics,” Mr. Tebow testified.

Mr. Tebow urged Congress to allocate more resources to fight against child sexual abuse and exploitation.

He also pressed lawmakers to take immediate action on passing a bill that would create and fund a rescue team for victims of child sexual abuse, citing alarming trends by the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).

NTD Photo
Tim Tebow testifies before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance on Capitol Hill in Washington on March, 6 2024. (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

An INTERPOL study was published in February 2018 following an examination of a random selection of videos and pictures in its global database. The data showed that 84 percent of images contained explicit sexual activity. Furthermore, more than 60 percent of unidentified victims were prepubescent, including infants and toddlers. The study also revealed that “the younger the victim, the more severe the abuse.”

Furthermore, the current system actually fails victims, according to testimony by Camille Cooper, Vice President of Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation at the Tim Tebow Foundation.

“Reports of sexual abuse have two tracks in the U.S. If you are raped by a neighbor, your case goes to law enforcement. If you are raped by a parent or caretaker, your case goes to social services. This is a diversion program for child rapists, established in federal law in 1974, ironically, as part of the Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act under the Social Security Act,” Ms. Cooper testified.

Wednesday’s public hearing follows a string of Congressional hearings on the issue. Earlier this year, senators grilled leaders of the biggest social media companies, including Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, on the role of Big Tech in promoting child exploitation.

“Mr. Zuckerberg, you and the companies before us, I know you don’t mean it to be so, but you have blood on your hands,” GOP Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said during the hearing. “You have a product that’s killing people.”

Meanwhile, bipartisan support is growing to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a federal immunity law for social media platforms.

The law needs to change, according to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In September 2023, Mr. Durbin introduced the STOP CSAM Act, which would allow victims to sue tech platforms and app stores.

“The Senate must act. Our failure to do so will preserve the status quo, where our children are being sexually exploited online every day,” Mr. Durbin said in a statement.

The legislation, endorsed by NCEC, was advanced by the committee but has yet to see a full Senate floor vote.

As lawmakers continue efforts to crack down on child sexual abuse and exploitation, another threat is quickly emerging. Artificial intelligence (AI) technology is increasingly growing and further complicating the issue. The NCEC said it received 4,700 reports last year about content generated by AI that depicted child sexual exploitation.

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